Apple’s Wordwide Developers Conference is still a few weeks away, but as usual, there’s no shortage of clues about what to expect.
The latest news suggests that Apple is putting more focus on photos and their inherently social nature. The company is expected to push out an update to iCloud that enables users to share and comment on photos.
Details are sparse, but according to The Wall Street Journal, some are expecting a service akin to Flickr to emerge within iCloud. Whether it’s a full-blown social service or something a bit more limited, the importance of photos and how they’re shared among people is clearly not lost on Apple.
The iCloud update will come two months after Facebook agreed to acquire Instagram for $1 billion. The unexpected deal served as the latest – and perhaps most significant – measure of just how valuable social photography can be, especially on mobile devices of the sort that Apple manufactures (and on which Instagram existed exclusively until recently).
Apple has never been known for building its own compelling social products. The most obvious example is Ping. There’s no reason this tendency couldn’t change, but what the company is likely cooking up will probably be designed to fit nicely into iOS and iCloud and not necessarily cater to a larger public.
Currently, the way photos are handled within iCloud is pretty static. Photostream syncs photos across devices, but that’s about it. The new upgrades will not only add sharing functionality but also the ability to sync videos.
What we’ll see at the WWDC is, as always, the subject of widespread rumor and speculation, but the next iteration of iOS is a safe bet. In addition to these iCloud updates, Apple is expected to unveil its own proprietary, notably non-Google mobile maps application. We may also learn more about Mountain Lion, the next version of Mac OS X, and see a hardware refresh or two.